When we drive by a field of grain, we think of how quaint farming is: in reality, though, agriculture and other food-related businesses are a huge part of modern economies. The “business of food” isn’t just food: it’s the restaurant business, food blogging and other publishing, culinary tourism, and many other related industries. The Umbra Institute’s course “The Business of Food: Italy and Beyond”–one of the three Food Studies Program classes–explores these industries in Italy and the rest of the world.
Experientia docet (“Learn through experience”) is the Umbra Institute’s motto, and co-curricular field trips are fundamental to reinforcing classroom learning. Last Friday the students taking the course went on a trip first to just outside the Umbrian hilltown of Spoleto. Dottor Giacomo Cinelli, the export director for olive oil producer Costa d’Oro, received the class in the company’s boardroom and gave them a presentation on the company’s global marketing strategy (Costa d’Oro exports to over 70 countries). The next stop was Castiglione del Lago, an Umbrian town perched on a promontory above the lake. Students had lunch with other visitors to Altrocioccolato, a fair trade chocolate festival, and then heard one of the organizers explain the principles behind fair trade. Again, direct experience is important: students tried a bar of chocolate from Ghana before heading back to Perugia, where another chocolate festival was waiting!